Saturday, June 30, 2007

Washing the dogs...

My family showed up to visit, always a pleasant surprise. While we were sitting enjoying the outdoors, they decided that my dogs stink. Well I had to agree so I jumped up and proceeded to wash them.

The whole group of them lined the deck and watched and gave advice and generally had a good time. So of course I thought this was grand...

and decide to join the fun with pictures to document the event. See how wonderfully helpful they were?

Monday, June 25, 2007


Alex is my guy that will try anything. If it looks interesting or if it will make you laugh, he'll give it a try.

He loves to be in front of an audience. He prefers to give an impromptu performance rather than a well studied one. Although he is starting to realize that a studied performance is a better idea in some cases.

Alex loves family and goes out of his way to be around to hear what everyone has to say.

He has a new passion for bike riding. Him and his friends try to get out every day. He is also learning how to fix his bike. It's a good thing, since it seems to break down on a regular basis!

Alex just finished his first year of high school. He appears to have done well this term, although I am still waiting on report cards!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


My sons are involved in a program called Block Robotics Learning. It is run by a very determined woman named Sally Mancini. This lady puts hundreds of hours into teaching children how to work with robots.

They mainly work with Lego Mindstorms and Lego NXT although this last year or two have seen them branch out into VEX robots and a new robot out of Lawrence Tech University. LTU runs a Robofest competition in the spring, under the guidance of Dr. CJ Chung. An amazing man with a vision.

During the year the kids are involved in many projects and competitions. They start the year with First Lego League competition. With a competition in our area in December, the winners head on to the next competition in Toronto or Flint, MI. Then if they are really good they head off to Atlanta for the world finals in the spring. We always are in the 4 or5 teams that make it to Flint or Toronto and we have even been to Atlanta once or twice.

During this time LTU has introduced a Thanksgiving day Robot parade. You can see a video on the Robofest site. Also added this year from LTU was a robot fashion parade and RoboSumo. In the spring some of the seniors head on to VEX competitions and the rest head on to Robofest for the game challenge. The kids compete at locale competitions then move on to the world Robofest at LTU. Kids show up from all over the USA, Canada, Korea and Singapore.

They can be there for the Robofest game, the Exhibition, RoboSumo, Vex Pentathlon, RoboFashionShow and a couple of other things. We had several teams make it to the world finals. My own kids were involved in the Exhibition, the RoboFashionShow and the RoboSumo.

William came home with first place in the Jr. RoboSumo! That's World finals!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


William is my sweetheart of the bunch. He loves to cook, pancakes, mac n' cheese, grilled cheese, cakes, anything that I'll let him do.

Always out to please, but with a devilish sense of humor that usually gets blamed on his little brother!

William is also a builder, if he isn't building something, he is drawing a picture of how to build it. He loves trucks, cranes, robotics and anything mechanical.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


I want to draw a picture of my father. He was a good looking man, but my Mom says he didn't like his picture taken. Something I never realized until I tried to find a picture with good detail to work from. Never mind that I also have a idea of what I want.

The way I think of my Dad when I want to remember sitting in a lawn chair, at our trailer on the lake, with a coffee in his hand, his blue fishing hat on, and that do you have something we can argue about grin...easy right?

My Dad died on fathers day 13 years ago. Now most people say, that's so terrible. Well it was bad that he died at 58, but I have to look at it differently. He had a major heart attack at fifty, it was a miracle that he survived it. So we received 8 precious years with him. At this time he went on disability pension. He saw three of his kids get married, 5 grandkids be born and he was at home to enjoy it all. He learned to bake, do cross stitch and babysit those grandkids. When he worked he did a hard, hot job and was stressed out much of the time worrying about losing his job. We got to see a whole new side to him.

On the Fathers Day that he died, we were all gathered together for a family breakfast. A tradition in our house, for every holiday. People who only showed up once in a while, stopped in for coffee and a chat. We figured out afterwards, that just about everybody that he knew had seen him in the last week. Interesting how life happens isn't it? Maybe this isn't something that would comfort everyone, but we are such a social and connected family, that this was a great comfort. A gift for him and for us.

Cats Eyes....

I have been having a slump in my drawings lately. The challenge this week really inspired me to give it a try. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

I had/have a pair of cats named Little Johnny and Big Buck. Males you think? Nope... these used cats came with their names and even though they are female we decided to leave them as is. We only added big and little so we can tell them apart. These cats are amazingly friendly. Everyone who came into the house was put into service... petting them!

Little Johnny died about two months ago. We sometimes called her Johnny Hurt Me, because she wanted to be rubbed rather vigorously. You could lift her up by her tail and she would purr all the louder. We figure that she (and her sister) was about 13 years old. Not a bad life.

Big Buck is still with us, as spry as ever. She likes to wait till the house is quiet then meow until she gets a good echo off of the ceilings. Luckily she has a short attention span! Big Buck will let Bob maul her, by the time she says she has had enough she is quite wet. Personally I think she goes and grooms after, he wets the spots that she couldn't get to. She is not to sure about the puppy yet. She is giving Gracie trial meetings... checking the grooming potential?

Saturday, June 16, 2007


One of my neighbors trees came down today. He started out with five slim, tall oak trees. He lost two last year, one today and had to cut one of the others down to 2/3rds. He is doing his best to save them, but unfortunately he and the rest of us neighbors, are the reason why they are dying. We built our homes on the edge of a forest with a developer who didn't take enough care with the trees.

We lucked out, our tree a shag-bark hickory, was saved by some money and some ingenuity. Our neighborhood planning had our lot putting a driveway right through it. By sending our utilities to the other side and turning our garage sideways, we were able to leave it alone. Our neighbor seemed to have that advantage naturally, but they must have cut to many roots in the building process.

Trees are majestic creatures, don't you think. Whether they are living or dying they manage to give pleasure. They flow with mother nature,taking what she gives and then they give back to the earth. They clean our air and nourish the next generation. They even give themselves up to our uses, fire, utility and art.

I wonder if you were a tree, would you want to give warmth and comfort? Would you be a beautiful piece of furniture? Maybe you would like to become a piece of art? Or would you want to live as part of nature in the woods, giving back to others like you?

If you think about it trees give an awful lot! Have you planted a tree lately?

Friday, June 15, 2007


Then they ask you if they can date!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Digital painting...

This week I have been learning to paint on the computer. The first thing I learned is that it is way more complicated than using MSPaint. The program I am using is called Artweaver. This program allows you to paint with different brushes and with different mediums. I can make a drawing with chalk, charcoal, pencil, conte, acrylics and many more mediums. I can pick what type of brush to use, if I want it full of paint or just enough to dab. The choices seem to be limitless.
A wonderful lady named Jan is giving a tutorial to us on Let's Make Art. It all sounds so simple until you get hit with all those choices. And I think it might not hurt to understand a bit more about painting. This pear was my second try at it. Me I know nothing about painting so it is a learning process from top to bottom.
One thing I do enjoy about drawing on the computer is that I don't have to take anything out to do it. It is also much more fun than playing games that won't advance my goal of becoming a renaissance woman.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Learning to draw a portrait is one of the most difficult things to do. I mean I can map everything out and take 30 or 40 hours and come up with a great portrait with a good likeness. I can after all see Jim looking out at me in his portrait, his lips, his eyes, yup it's him.

What is really hard is to take a person or photograph and do a quick sketch of them . Not only do you have to follow the laws of nature...the face does follow certain patterns after all, you have to capture the essence of the person you are drawing. The thing that makes their face unique from the other 6 billion people on the planet.

Now I will have to apologize to these beautiful ladies. I do feel that I captured some of their look, but I don't think their Mom's will call for copies! Now I have heard one of these ladies say "practice, practice, practice". So back to the sketch pad for me, because I would so love to be able to whip off a sketch of someone and have it be recognizable.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bob for sale....

I had to bring my son lunch today. He says Dad forgot to put it in his backpack. I wondered whose lunch and backpack it was?
Since I was going out in the car to do this, I figure well I'll take the dogs to the pet store (safe outing
to use up energy). We get there, while I am putting the puppy in the cart and securing him (still no shots) Bob jumps out of the car! into the aisle way! luckily no cars coming. Apparently all those times that I told him to sit/stay when opening the car door wasn't good enough for today. Fortunately this is one time he high tailed it back when I called him. Then I get them together and I walk into the store. A store that I have been to many a time with Bob, a perfect gentleman every time. I figure I'll take a couple of rounds letting them see other dogs and what not. I get to the end of the store and Bob starts peeing! Have you ever seen a Great Dane pee? Unfortunately, I realize at this time that he didn't go outside at home, he pretty much takes care of himself, but when we left is when he got up. So I decide, after I have an employee clean up after him (to big a mess to clean up with courtesy towels!), that I better get him outside to finish his business. At this time a whole group of people see him and the puppy and come to say hello. Well Bob, having a senior citizen's constitution, takes this for a couple of minutes and then proceeds to dump! Boy people move fast! So after cleaning up this mess, I figure I might as well get the walking in that I planned, he's done right? No! Having treated the store like a dog park thus far...he smells a spot where some other dog marked! So he proceeds to mark! A puddle that takes about twenty towels! All this time the puppy is behaving beautifully, except I am terrified that she will try to jump out and will strangle herself while I am cleaning messes. I beat heck out of there and Bob is now in hiding. Luckily for him I know it is my fault for not making sure he had gone out. I am sure there is a lesson in there.
Okay maybe he's not for sale, he does put up with a lot of abuse. Owners who don't put him out, kids, puppies...

Now on the other hand Douglas is for sale. He comes home and says he didn't even eat all day! Now you know I brought him his lunch! He says he didn't have time to eat it! So I make him get it out and eat it. Later when I am checking his backpack for homework, what do I find? His lunch, beautifully wrapped by Jim, with a juice and a treat!